The "angelic" face of a 12-year-old Jesus has been recreated using the image taken from the Shroud of Turin to commemorate the two-month exhibition of the cloth believed to be Jesus Christ's burial cloth.
The image of the young Jesus was computer-generated by the Italian police who reversed the technology they used for adding wrinkles to the drawings of Mafia bosses to identify them after decades on the run, The New York Times reported.
To create the image of the young Jesus, the police subtracted years from the man's face imprinted on the Shroud of Turin and removed his beard. They also colored his hair blonde and lightened his complexion.
"The angelic face is reminiscent of the prayer cards sold in Vatican souvenir shops and of the New Age portraits displayed at Venice Beach. The image shows a 12-year-old boy with fair, smooth skin, glassy blue eyes, fleshy lips and waves of dirty blond hair streaked with just enough purple and pink to suggest a sprinkling of cosmic dust," The New York Times described the generated image.
Paul Damon, a geoscientist who was part of the team that held a carbon-14 dating test on the Shroud in 1998, reacted negatively to the police recreation of Jesus' face, saying it's a "malarkey," adding: "The boy would not be blond."
The Vatican has not commented yet on the image of the boy created from the imprint on the Shroud.
The scientific unit of Rome's police force was prompted to create the image upon the suggestion of television news reporters who were doing a special news program about Jesus.
Elena Guarnieri, the host of the television news special, said the idea came to them as an "illumination, maybe it was inspiration." She said people have always been wondering how Jesus looked like as a boy. "If that is the face on the shroud, then this is the face of Jesus as a child," she said.
Christians believe that the Shroud of Turin, a linen cloth imprinted with the image of a man's face and wounded body, was the cloth used to wrap the body of Jesus during his burial. But after using carbon-14 dating tests in 1988, a group of scientists ruled that it was a medieval forgery since the cloth was dated between 1260 and 1390.
However, this finding has not diluted the beliefs of millions of Christians that the Shroud of Turin was indeed the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
The exhibition of the Shroud, which started last week and will last until June 24, has been authorized by Pope Francis to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. John Bosco, a priest from Turin who lived in the 19th century and pioneered vocational education, the Catholic News Service wrote last week.
The Pope is scheduled to visit Turin on June 21-22 where he is expected to view the Shroud.